Heroin deaths in the Birmingham area are an all too common problem.
One organization says heroin addiction begins with prescription drug abuse and something needs to be done to control the number of prescriptions written for painkillers.
According to the CDC, Alabama is one southern state that has had the most prescriptions for painkillers.
The Addiction Prevention Coalition says that's a dangerous and deadly problem.
"Prescription drugs and opiates have paved the way for the heroin problem," said Danny Molloy with the Addiction Prevention Coalition.
It's something Molloy knows all too well. He's a former heroin addict whose problem began with abusing prescription painkillers.
"I realized heroin was cheaper and that I could get it anywhere,” said Molloy. “I did heroin for about 5 years."
After a lot of rehab, he's been clean for seven years and is now with the Addiction Prevention Coalition in Birmingham, which educates teens about drug abuse and provides resources for addicts who want to get help.
Molloy says preventing heroin deaths starts in doctor's offices.
"I feel like doctors need more accountability as to what they’re doing,” said Molloy. “Nobody is above the law and we have an opioid epidemic right now."
According to the CDC, Alabama is one of the states leading the nation in prescribing painkillers.
Molloy says it's time for the state to take a serious look at a mandatory Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which are state-run databases that track prescriptions to prevent over-prescribing.
"Without a monitoring program, it's really hard to detect what doctors are writing what prescriptions,” said Molloy. “There is a difference between use and abuse. Using medication in the proper way, obviously, that's what medication is for but it can slip into addiction."
The Addiction Prevention Coalition goes into area high schools and talks to students about the dangers of drug abuse and addiction, which is how he knows teenagers are battling those things.
"We need to get in front of this thing because now it's a heroin epidemic because everyone is moving from painkillers to heroin,” said Molloy. “Now we’ve got people younger and younger dying. We're seeing it in almost all the high schools that we have our program in. Seventeen high schools and we've met somebody who either does heroin or knows someone who does heroin in the high school."
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